When we are grateful that our most basic needs are satisfied, we can free ourselves from yearning for excess. That is what I felt when I listened to the rain this morning with a full belly of breakfast. It was a simple moment that fueled my spirit. The rain symbolized more than a drink for the plants, trees, and grass. To me, it felt like both a good cry for the times we’re living in and a release from the constant clench of stress or worry due to the pandemic. And if the heavy moisture can release from the sky, then so too do we have the ability to let go of some of this 2020 heaviness. If there is any good that has come from this year, it’s that it has forced us to live more simply. We’ve been stripped from the past normal we knew only to be left with wanting to put the pieces back together for a sense of comfort in the hope that not all is lost. What if we were brave enough to discard the old and broken pieces of the normal and start to build something new? What if we could remain grateful for what is supporting our basic needs? If you have food, water, shelter, clothing, safety, and are getting sleep every night, then you are winning against the havoc of 2020. Before this pandemic, attaining these basic needs was expected and easy to achieve. Now, we appreciate the truth of the matter: we are extremely fortunate if this is true for us. Note: This is not a guilt-ridden comparison lecture about others living in lack while your plates are overflowing. It’s good to keep perspective, but that’s not what feeling gratitude for your basic needs is about. Even if everyone in the world had an abundance of resources, it’s still important to feel grateful for what sustains you to live. Taking pause to feel grateful for your basic needs being met has the power to break the habit of over-consuming things you don’t need with money and time better spent. When you fill your life up with gratitude, there will be less room to fill it with material garbage things that won’t sustain satisfaction. You can feel gratitude by focusing on (slowing down to acknowledge) what you’re doing or experiencing. For instance, when I paused this morning to take in the beauty of the rainfall, I felt fully absorbed and appreciative not just for the moment, not just for my breakfast, my safety, my home, and my family, but I also felt appreciative for my life, for the breath in my body, for the years I’ve lived, for the lessons I’ve learned, for the wisdom I’ve gained, for the growth I’ve accomplished, and for the opportunity to live today and for the hope of tomorrow. What I felt this morning was more than gratitude. I experienced a moment of peace and self-love. And what led me there was gratitude. May you find more moments of pause and peace to appreciate the ways your basic needs are supported while also feeling gratitude. If you need a place to start, here is a quick exercise to get you in the mindset. Five-minute gratitude exercise:
Take out a notebook or electronic device.
Think about what or who has helped you in your life to achieve joy or happiness (this could include yourself).
Write down three ways these things/people have helped you, starting with the phrase: “I’m grateful for XYZ because …”
Get specific so you narrow in on what it is that makes you feel grateful.